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Backward Muslims protest denial of burial

Backward Muslims protest denial of burial

Author: Anand Mohan Sahay
Publication: Rediff.com
Date: March 6, 2003
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/mar/06bihar.htm

A section of Muslims in Bihar are up in arms against the more affluent and powerful section of Muslims for denying them entry into graveyards on the grounds of lower caste status.

In the last one-year, a few cases have surfaced where the backward or lower caste Muslims faced trouble over easy entry for burial in graveyards and in two or three cases they were not allowed to bury. They finally resorted to burying the body outside the graveyard.

The Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz and All India United Muslim Morcha, both based in Bihar and being the socio-political front of backward Muslims, have threatened to launch a movement against the powerful upper caste Muslim elite on this issue.

Mahaz president Ali Anwar has expressed deep concern over the denial burial rights at different graveyards in the name of cast in more than six districts in Bihar.

AIUMM president Dr M Ajaj Ali, who had championed the cause of backward Muslims in Bihar in the 90s and whom he termed as 'Dalit Muslims', first raised the issue about the denying of burial rights.

He that disallowing of a particular Muslim burial in a graveyard on the grounds of caste is against the basic tenants of Islam. "Where is the caste system in Islam, there is no basis of caste in Islam, but it is being practiced and creating trouble in social harmony," he said.

Anwar claimed that some people have been denied access to a graveyard despite having vasiyatnama [validity for entry] in Jahanabad district a few months ago. "Some powerful people disallowed burial of Salim Ansari in the graveyard on the ground of caste," he said.

He has decided to stage a dharna [protest], along with a team of his Mahaz. "We have recorded instances in which people belonging to lower Muslim caste have been stopped from burying their dead," he said.

Both leaders in separate statements have urged the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to intervene into the matter before it is too late. "I would like to appeal to Board to leave the political issues in the hands of politicians and instead take religious issues related with Muslim community like this to resolve it," Ali said.

Though the number of such cases of denying entry for burial in graveyard is still rare, the issue raised by leaders of backward Muslims has added a new twist to the entire issue.

Usually, there is a common graveyard for all Muslim in a Muslim village or mohalla where all of them have being burying their dead for ages. But there still are a few villages where the backward Muslims are forced to create a separate graveyard for them.

In Bihar, backward Muslim leaders have demanded job quotas for backward Muslims claiming they are equal to Hindu backward community.

They claim that over 75 percent of the Muslim community comprising backward Muslims, including the Ansari, Kunjra, Churihara, Dhobi and Halalkhor.

The upper caste Muslim comprises of Syed, Sheikh, Pathan [Khan] and Mallik.


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